We are what we say we are

A couple weeks ago I was looking for something to watch on Netflix during my Sunday afternoon ‘Kitchen Therapy’. I’ve not ever watched Lost and figured with six seasons of episodes it ought to keep me entertained for quite awhile. And I am hooked – just like people kept telling me I would be back in 2004.

HCRP and I carpool to work which means I get dropped off about an hour early most mornings which gives me a little bit of time to entertain myself. Yesterday on my lunch hour I’d got almost through an episode titled The 23rd Psalm that focuses on the character of Mr. Eko.

I’m not going to even attempt to go through a season and a half’s worth of episodes, let alone several years of the character’s backstory, to explain every little detail because . . . well . . . this is a blog, not Homer’s Odyssey. But there is a scene in the episode where another character asks Mr. Eko “So, are you a priest or aren’t you?” and the camera focuses in on Eko’s face and you see this Moment, this instant of choice, and he answers the question simply “Yes. I am.” And in watching that Moment of his I had one of my own when I had the realization expressed in this post’s title: We are what we say we are.

As if that Moment in that episode of a television show wasn’t enough for me, my Inbox decided to hammer the point home with emails from two completely unrelated sources.

The first was a quote from a daily email newsletter I’ve subscribed to for a couple years now called The Daily Love. This morning’s missive contained the following quote: “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” Antoine de Saint Exupery
As I shared on Facebook that event was lacing up a pair of Asics and running 1 minute, walking 1 minute over and over for 20 minutes then doing that two more times that week. And the ‘stranger’ I met that day was Julianne The Runner.

It took me a long time to really, fully embrace the concept of myself as A Runner (capital R). I mean, I ran. Well, I ran/walked. The chances of me ever full-bore running even so much as an entire 5K are pretty slim. For one thing, I don’t necessarily feel the need. For another, that’s not how I train and as every runner knows – you race the way you train. So I will be a run/walk girl no matter the distance!
I’m not going to win, place, or likely even ever ‘show’ from a winning a medal standpoint. At least not until I’m in that 70+ age division and even then I sure won’t if Tonia or Terri Lee are running the same race! And I’m okay with that. I run to finish.

But back to Mr. Eko up there.
In his seminal moment of self-definition I realized the truth that we really are what we say we are!
Runner.
Writer.
Trainer.
Coach.
Motivator.
Even The Good Book tells us “What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.”
Well I’m ready to stand in that shining light and say I am A Runner and going forward I will be a Trainer and a Coach and a Motivator for others so that they, too, can lace up their running shoes and meet that stranger lurking deep down inside who is their Runner or Writer or Trainer or whoever it is they say they are!

Oh, and that second quote I mentioned hitting my Inbox this morning?
That one came from the blog of none other than Jeff Galloway, the Patron Saint of Run/Walkers everywhere.
Question: My friends think that walking is “less important” and that if you don’t run the entire way, you didn’t do it right. How do you deal with it?
Jeff: In every area of life there are individuals who will tell you that the only way to do something is the way that they do it. According to an original source, all of the marathoners in the first marathon race in Athens (1896 Olympics) walked significant portions of the race. By nature, running is a self empowering activity and each of us can choose how fast, how far and how many walk breaks we use on each run. If anyone says that run/walk/run is not doing it right, ask for the rule book that excludes walk breaks. They cannot, because each of us makes our own rule book.
Thank you Mr. Galloway wherever you are!

Jack Rabbit Starts and Turtle Finishes

Running is a funny thing.
It’s a competitive sport and a personal endeavor.
It’s the journey and the destination.
It’s the starts and the finishes.
And it is everything in between.

But today I find myself thinking about those starts and finishes.

When I first started running I instinctively started slow and easy.  I was new at it so the tentativeness was natural.  And at the beginning I started every run wondering if this was going to be The One where The Truth that I really couldn’t run and really didn’t have any business even trying was going to bring me to some painful, screeching halt once and for all.
That never happened.
Just like my first fall wasn’t as bad as the fear of the fall.
Just like neither of the legless beasts I’ve encountered on the trail have struck or strangled me.  (With or without Samuel L. Jackson…)
Just like there have been no dead bodies along the trail.  (Rational or not, it’s my irrational fear.  Don’t judge me.)

And so I ran.  And and kept running.  And wrote about running.  And ran some runs just for the sake of having a run to write about.
Eventually (last month) all that running led me to doing something that hadn’t ever been on my radar ever anywhere in the history of my radar – I ran a Half Marathon!
And it felt great!
So much so that part of me was a little afraid to run again for fear of never feeling That Good about a run ever again anywhere in the future of my running or my radar.

But I ran anyway.
And on that first run a full week after the Half I took off like I’d been shot out of a cannon!  My first mile was a full 32 seconds faster (per mile) than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.  I. Was. Gettin’. It!
And it felt great!
Until it didn’t felt so great around mile three which I finished almost a full minute slower than my normal, consistent 12 minute per mile (with a walking interval) pace.
*le sigh*

So the next run I started all the happy self-talk reminding myself that slow and steady wins the race and that I run with endurance – not speed – the race set before me and that it’s better to start slow and finish strong and every other running ‘ism about starts and finishes known to running mankind.
And I took off like I’d been shot out of another cannon!
And I jack rabbited that first mile and turtled, if not the last one at least one towards the end.

In case you think I’m beating the whole “Tortoise and The Hare” fairy tale to death, let me share something with you.  Below is how Endomondo (best running program I’ve found for smartphones by the way) gives race splits.

See? Rabbit.  Turtle.

See the result of that jack rabbit start?  Turtle finish.  Not fun.

From a running perspective I need to get that under control.
After all nobody – and I mean not one running body – wants to finish a race walking across a finish line because you left everything in the first mile.  That is an especially bad strategy for longer races.  Like my upcoming St. Jude Half Marathon.  And it sure ain’t gonna work for doing the St. Jude Full next year!
Incidentally I’m running as a St. Jude Hero and if you’d like to help me raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital go here and thank you!

It’s also notsomuch a great strategy for life.
And says a lot about how I’ve gone through life and why this is the first time in my life I’ve done something physical that lasted more than three months.
Well other than pregnancy.  That was certainly physical and certainly lasted longer than three months!

How you start a thing determines how you finish it.
And that turtle didn’t start that race even trying to keep pace with that rabbit and look how that worked out for him!

It’s still a PR! Right?!

We ran a 10K this morning, HCRP and I.  Well technically it was HCRP, me, and about 600 other people.  This was a first time 5K/10K for a local organization I have a world of respect and gratitude for.  In the early years of my life here in Memphis CHC was my Primary Care Physician.  I worked for either small businesses that couldn’t afford to offer health insurance; or for wages that didn’t allow for my portion of the premium.  So when either my son or I were sick that was where we went.
The first affordable health insurance coverage I was ever offered was their MEMPHIS Plan which I believe is a model for other communities and their medical communities!
/Steps off Soapbox . . .

My first 10K was back in June and I beat my stated goal time of 1:15:00 by 29 seconds.
My stated goal time for today’s race was 1:10:00 and I missed it by 54 seconds.

But I still beat my last time so that makes it a PR and I’ll take it!
It is still a PR even if it’s only your second race of a particular distance.  Right?  Of course right!

We’ve been running, building up miles towards December’s St. Jude Half Marathon.
Last Sunday we ran one of our local greenway trails.  “Greenway” translates to “There are probably snakes out here!” and there were.  Right around a mile into our seven mile (utterly craptabulous from Step One) run there was one of THESE right smack dab in the middle of the trail.  (WARNING: It’s a wikipedia page about the Nerodia Rhombifer.)
And of course Samuel L. Jackson was nowhere to be found with his mighty powers of snake defying profanity.  (WARNING: There’s a lot of Samuel L. cursing at that link.  Mom, I warned you.)  Thanks Sam.  I’ll keep this in mind the next time you need running advice or a home-cooked meal or pretty much anything else.  This is twice man.  Twice.  Not.  Cool.
Given Samuel L’s betrayal . . . err . . . absence HCRP came to my rescue by going around the snake first, creating a distraction so that I could pass unnoticed by the legless beast.
(I am not a fan of snakes.  In case you haven’t picked up on that particular vibe.)

Update on Project AwesomeBoobs
(Name suggested by one of my uber-cool online friends)
Got home from work yesterday to find a letter from my insurance provider informing me that they have APPROVED my “Reduction Mammography”.  I am approved for 0 (as in zero) Visits and 2 Procedures.  I’m guessing that’s one for each side or something.  It struck me as funny anyway.

So this afternoon following my PR setting 10K I could think of no better way to celebrate than to switch out my Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter wardrobes.  And since I was pulling every stitch of clothing out of the closet I figured I’d go ahead and divest myself of the things that no longer fit.  Which is most of my Spring/Summer shorts, skirts, and everything from the waist down.
I started last summer in a size 16 and am now wearing a 10 in jeans and a 12 in slimmer cut skirts, etc.  That’s from the waist down.  Waist up I’m still a 16.
Anyway, as I was going through Le Wardrobe I started looking at my Spring/Summer tops and blouses and realized that next year I will be swimming in them!

This really is going to be a substantial change in every area of my life.
Last weekend HCRP and I were strolling through Macy’s and it hit me that for the first time in . . . well . . . ever I am going to be able to wear button-up blouses without using dress tape or safety pins.  I very nearly cried standing there looking at a really cute, size 10 blouse.

A friend – a couple of them actually – had suggested that I see a therapist between now and when I have this done next February.

Oh.  And yeah.  My target date is Tuesday, February 26th.  I’ll be calling Dr. Awesome Boobs’ office on Monday to get that on his schedule.

And speaking of “between now and then” I’ve also been advised by other women who’ve had this done that if I have any more weight I want to lose I need to try and do that before the surgery.  I happen to have a few pounds I’d like to go forward without, so I’ll be beginning that effort next week.
Several months ago I came across the documentary Fat Sick & Nearly Dead on Netflix and I was absolutely riveted by it.  I watched it three times in as many days then made HCRP watch it with me one afternoon.  I’ve decided to kick off my efforts by following Joe’s Reboot Your Life program.
Before you jump me about ‘extreme diets’ and ‘boomerang effect’ and ‘fads’ go the the Reboot Your Life link up there and click the link to watch the film free on Hulu.  THAT – if nothing else – is how I know this guy is for real.  He has put his entire film (that he otherwise sells on DVD) out there For Free to get the message out.  AND the plans and a ton of recipes are available For Free on that site as well.
I’ve researched and considered this for several weeks and I think the two week reboot is going to be good for me.

So now my Running Blog has become a Running and Breast Reduction Blog and Pre-Breast Reduction Weight Loss.
Who saw that coming?!

When I said “Running changed my life” I really had very little idea exactly what all that was going to entail.

Absolutely one of the best posts I’ve read in a long, long time. Of course I happen to think this writer is utterly brilliant in every way anyhow and I am honored to know her IRL and have her as a personal mentor in many, many things.

P.S. Terri Lee, I consider you a mentor. In case I forgot to mention that… 🙂

Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

My mother has always told me that my first word was “Why?”  I’m not positive it was the absolutely first word, it seems mama or dahdah might have been more likely, but it was at least said often enough, early enough and clearly enough that it has stuck in her head ever since.

Yesterday the B’ster was here.  He was watching Cat in the Hat and I was blowing my hair dry.

“Moggie.  What are you doing?”

“Drying my hair.”

“Why?”

“It’s wet, so I need to dry it.”

“Why?”

“Because I took a shower.”

“Why?”

“Because I take a shower every morning.”

“Why?” …

How about those Cardinals, huh, B’ster?

I’m revisiting my favorite spiritual writer.  I’ve purchased a clean copy of his book since the other is completely underlined, outlined and written upon and I’ll just be distracted by the commercials in the margins and not pay attention…

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Kinda Sorta Not and Yet Totally About Running

This past Wednesday I had a consultation with a surgeon regarding what is commonly referred to as “Reduction Mammoplasty”.
Yes.
You read that right.
I am having The Girls (as they say) “cut down to size”.

This isn’t exactly one of those ‘elective, corrective surgeries’ that can be done ” under the radar”.It is going to be noticeable.
I mean, have you met me?!
And if you have ‘met’ me . . . well . . . Why are we even having this conversation?!

All that aside, let’s just get to the nut cu…  err… the rat killin’ of the whole thing.  Shall we?

My Goal Date for this whole ‘Procedjah‘ is Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

I’m scheduling it that far in advance because there are two races I intend to run between now and then:
The St. Jude Half Marathon on December 2nd, 2012; and
The New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon on February 24th, 2013.

I’ll have the surgery the 26th of February which will give me ample time to recover and train to run the St. Jude Full Marathon (my first 26.2) in December 2013.

So.
That’s what I have coming up in the next year and a few weeks.

I’m sharing this here to ask for your prayers and positive thoughts as I prepare mentally and physically for this surgery.

My intention is to be so completely prepared – on every level – that the surgery and recovery go like a hot knife through butter.
Literally and physically.

Oh, and if you have any question about the “necessity” of this surgery, let’s just say that the doctor said (and I quote): Oh we have got to do something about this.  And that was before I told him I was a runner!

So there you have it.
The biggest personal decision I have never been able to hide.
Because what am I gonna say come February 27, 2013: I have NO IDEA where they went!  I just woke up and they were GONE!! ???

Jillian Michaels: Pace Buster!

Wherein our intrepid heroine chooses an audiobook by her favorite motivational celebriwriter instead of her tried and true Running Pace Playlist and learns a thing or two . . .

HCRP and I have been really bad runners the past couple weeks.
We haven’t really been getting our miles in.

We haven’t really been very consistent with our runs.
This is pretty risky behavior for two people who are only about seven weeks out from a half marathon.
Oh sure, we just finished one last month but those are hardly laurels one can rest on for 13.1 miles two and a half months later.

HCRP, for his part, has been having some tightness in his sartorius muscle.
I know this not because of my extensive studies of human anatomy or my secret, night school medical diploma.  I know this because today he saw The Exorcist.  She made famous by the equally famous Terri Lee in her groundbreaking blog about running, a dog, a cat, and life in general.
Anyway, he has had a reasonable reason to cut back on his running.  In fact, he was grounded from running by Le Exorciste.  Which is what led to yours truly – the aforementioned Intrepid Heroine – running sans the RP portion of HCRP.

For whatever crazy reason I decided to run listening to one of my many audiobooks.  I say “crazy reason” because I rely on my running play list to keep me on my trusty 12:00 min/mile running pace.
Yes, I said “rely” and I do.  I’m weak.
And a huge fan of music on my runs.
One of these days I’ll become one of Those Runners who just lace up their Asics, head out the door, and pound out the miles.  But for now there’s this whole ‘gearing up’ thing I go through with the industrial strength running bra, strap pads (see previous link), water belt, and since I’ve done All That why not go ahead and take the iPhone and ear buds?  Because really, what’s a run without technology?  (And there’s that whole Safety Issue to having one’s phone with one on a run in case one falls and can’t get up…)  However, I digress…

Crap!
Where was I?
iPhone for safety…
running bra/strap pads…
Those Runners…
Oh!  Now I remember!  Running with Jillian Michaels!

So I fire up Jillian’s (I call her ‘Jillian’ because we’re tight like that me and Jillian) Unlimited and get to running!
And everything feels great from Step One!  I’m talkin’ Tony The Tiger on a Saturday Morning commercial in the middle of Scooby Doo They’re Grrrrrrrrrreat!” great!
After the first five minute running interval The Endomondo Lady pipes up and says “Two Minutes – Low Intensity” so I slow to a brisk walk, take a sip of water, and wait (a little more impatiently than usual) for her to say “Five Minutes.  Medium Intensity”.
Somewhere along the way it registers in my brain that rather than getting to the “Two Minutes.  Low Intensity” interval before the half mile marker on the trail, I got to that interval after the half mile marker which can only mean one thing: I must be running quicker than my regular pace.  And it felt Tony The Tiger Grrrrrrrrrreat!
Endomondo Lady pipes back up, we run for five minutes – just me, Jillian, and Endomondo lady – and again are past the one mile marker before reaching the next “Two Minutes.    Low Intensity” cue.  This really can mean only one thing: I really am running – comfortably and completely on my own – faster than a twelve minute mile!  FOR an entire mile!

And this isn’t one of those Jillian Michaels Biggest Loser Screaming Trainer type books I’m listening to.  She is, dare I say, downright sedate and soothing in (most of) her delivery in Unlimited.  It’s a “Love your life and live a life you love” book, not a “Get off your fat ass (sorry mom) and run until you vomit!” book.  And (we now pause for a word from our non-sponsor) it’s really a good book.  At least I think so.  So does my “I’m not a fan of Jillian” friend/running buddy-mentor Tonia.

At the end of the run I did 4.40 miles in 50:42 and averaged 11:32 min/mile.
Which can mean only one thing, two things really:
#1: I can reduce my time and run faster!
#2: I really need to listen to Jillian Michaels when I’m running in races!